Teaching students to think: how to train the culture of thinking - Best Schools in Spain

What is the culture of thinking?

Teaching students to think skilfully, providing them with the skills to solve complex, real-life problems and make the right decisions, involves teaching them how to use thinking skills correctly and spontaneously in their daily lives from a very young age.

These skills become a natural part of their way of acting and allows them to successfully progress in today’s world, which is in constant growth and transformation.

“I fight for an education that teaches us how to think, not an education that teaches us how to obey”

Paulo Freire

How to promote the culture of thinking?

Aware of the importance of this powerful tool to help students reach their full potential in all areas of their lives, centres from the Best Schools in Spain have scrupulously designed programmes that allow students to develop these skills.

Our educational projects integrate critical and creative thinking into the curriculum in a structured and contextualised manner so that students can internalise higher-order thinking strategies and use them skilfully in their daily lives.

There are four essential elements that we systematically practise: habits of mind, thinking routines, higher-order thinking strategies and thinking about what we have learnt, otherwise known as metacognition. Below, we will explain each of them.

Our programmes include the habits of mind, a set of 16 problem-solving skills and life strategies that we need to operate efficiently. They are mainly focused on strengthening social skills, strategic reasoning, persistence, creativity and perspicacity.

Thinking routines (open questions that make students think) guide schoolchildren to connect ideas, see/think and ask themselves questions, change their way of thinking, be flexible, explore, etc.

Higher-order thinking skills teach students to use techniques that help them:

Generate new, varied and detailed ideas and put together analogies and metaphors.

Clarify them by comparing and contrasting, classifying and sequencing.

Assess how reasonable they are based on the reliability of the information sources and by using evidence and deduction, among other techniques.

By following this path, we prepare them to proficiently undertake the two most important complex thinking tasks: decision-making and problem solving. All this activates students’ potential and motivates them to improve their learning and well-being through quality thinking.

Finally, constantly thinking about “what I’ve learnt, how I’ve learnt it and how I can improve the next time I do it”, or applying metacognition to the learning process, is what makes students capable of learning by themselves throughout their entire lives.

Processing, reasoning, assessing and generating ideas

At centres from the Best Schools in Spain network, we help students guide their thinking when carrying out higher-order tasks, such as:

Processing information, a crucial task in a world full of analysis and decision-making based on mass data.

Reasoning, judging and making decisions based on evidence.

Assessing, developing valid criteria.

Generating creative ideas, one of the most sought-after profiles in the business world and for life.

Being inquisitive, asking ourselves good questions that define and foresee problems.

This is a comprehensive catalogue of skills that our schools believe are essential for people to interact both socially and with themselves, and also increase their ability to deal with and successfully adapt to today’s world, where work, technology and culture are in constant evolution.

You can find out more about how to make good thinking the basis of good learning from Robert Swartz, forefather of the thinking culture with more than thirty years’ experience teaching students from all around the world to think.

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